The CIOR and the CIOMR (Interallied Confederation of Reserve Officers and Interallied Confederation of Medical Reserve Offi-cers) represent the interests of more than 1.4 million reservists in 36 countries that are aligned or non-aligned with NATO. They are the largest military reserve officer organisations in the world. Originally founded in 1948 and 1947 by national reserve officer associations in (later) NATO member states, the two organisations, as non-political and non-profit umbrella organisations, today cooperate closely with NATO.
It is the task of the CIOR’s CIMIC (Civil Military Cooperation) Committee to propose ways of best incorporating reservists in the assignments undertaken by active-duty military personnel in the context of civilian-military collaborative missions and to act as a think tank and discussion forum with regard to the aspect of ‘Reservists and CIMIC’. The committee members are both reservists and active-duty members of the armed forces who are experts in their fields.
In this year, the CIMIC Committee organised, for the third time, a combined civil-military exercise ( ‘CIMEX’ ). These exercises are usually held to coincide with the annual CIOR/CIOMR Sum-mer Congresses in the various member countries (the 2012 venue was Denmark, that for 2013 was the Czech Republic). From 31 July to 4 August 2014 the German Army Infantry School in Hammelburg, Germany, 65 km from Fulda, played host to 37 participants and speakers from eight countries. The British Military Stabilisation Support Group (MSSG) was responsible for arranging the programme while the CIOR/CIOMR Planning Unit for the Summer Congress and the German Armed Forces (Bundeswehr) took charge of the logis-tics side.
The purpose of these international exercises involving active-duty military personnel and reservists is not just to train them in special staff work-related skills. The main aims of the CIMEX events are to facilitate and improve personal and international networking and to provide an established platform for the direct exchange of information and experience. The CIMEX events are intended to support and extend the international CIMIC community. They promote cross-border understanding between partners, helping to make their collaboration closer and more effective.
As in the past, this year’s exercise consisted of two segments. The first segment involved presentations and discussions of various CIMIC-relevant topics. In the second segment, the participants were confronted with a realistic operational scenario in the form of a desktop exercise. In multinational teams, they were asked to deal with various aspects arising from a major flood disaster associated with large numbers of refugees. The results achieved by the various teams were then reviewed by a staff officer and discussed in the auditorium. The working language was English.
The focus of the presentations in the first segment of the exercise was on personal experiences of participation in disaster and humanitarian missions. Speakers from the UN, NATO, USEUCOM, the CIMIC Centre of Excellence of the Bundeswehr, the professional fire services and the German Federal Agency for Technical Relief (THW) all contributed to making the event a success. Among these was a member of the Canadian Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART), who provided a concise overview of the humanitarian aid provided thorough Operation RENAISSANCE following the devastation caused in the Philippines by the super typhoon of 2013. The growing relevance of the Medical Service in CIMIC missions was also a subject of discussion.
Another of the highlights was the aspect of ‘Gender-related issues’, which was analysed in the light of UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 on women, peace and security. Information on this was provided to the participants by representatives of the NATO CCOE (CIMIC Centre of Excellence) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
The scenario for the desktop exercise in the second segment was a flood disaster in an African country. The participants were required to manage a ‘deluge of internally displaced persons’ and to plan the provision of the necessary emergency shelter for them. This meant that they could use their own experience and newly acquired skills to deal with refugees who had had to flee their homes because of severe flooding. The multinational teams were also expected, in particular, to apply the Sphere Standards when it came to the planning and construction of refugee camps. They were also required to take into account the effects of mixed gender and mixed ethnic group accommodation.
The Sphere Project – or ‘Sphere’ – was initiated in 1997 by a group of humanitarian non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. Their aim was to improve the quality of their actions during disaster response and to be held accountable for them. They based Sphere’s philosophy on two core beliefs: first, that those affected by disaster or conflict have a right to life with dignity and, therefore, a right to assistance; and second, that all possible steps should be taken to alleviate human suffering arising out of disaster or conflict.
Striving to support these two core beliefs, the Sphere Project framed a Humanitarian Charter and identified a set of minimum standards in key life-saving sectors which are now reflected in the Handbook’s four technical chapters: water supply, sanitation and hygiene promotion; food security and nutrition; shelter, settlement and non-food items; and health action. The Core Standards are process standards and apply to all technical chapters.
The minimum standards are evidence-based and represent sector-wide consensus on best practice in humanitarian response. Key actions, key indicators and guidance notes (described in the ‘How to use the standards’ section below) accompany each standard, providing guidance on how to attain it.
The minimum standards describe conditions that must be achieved in any humanitarian response in order for disaster-affected populations to survive and recover in stable conditions and with dignity. The inclusion of affected populations in the consultative process lies at the heart of Sphere’s philosophy. The Sphere Project, consequently, was one of the first of what are now known as the quality and accountability (Q&A) initiatives.
Participants were thus directly able to use the skills previously acquired in theoretical form and their growing insight into the importance of gender-related aspects in humanitarian aid, civil protection and complex military missions in a first practical situation.
One of the core outcomes of CIMEX 2014 for participants was the improved understanding of gender issues and UN Security Council Resolution 1325, which is still in the process of development. As Cpt. Holly Cookson, US Air Force Reserve, tellingly observed: “As a participant, I have learned that if you don’t include women, you are missing out on half of the population.”
Although the CIMEX programme was very demanding and time-consuming, participants were still provided with opportunities to get together in a more relaxed atmosphere. At the welcome dinner in the 11th century Schloss Saaleck near Hammelburg and regional wine-tasting sessions in the vineyards, participants were able to interact in an off-duty environment.
The emphasis accorded to CIMIC and stabilisation strategies will increase in future defence policies of NATO states. Many countries are already taking this trend into account and are modifying the size and form of their CIMIC organisations accordingly. This also means that greater reliance will be placed on armed forces reservists with their dual careers in the civilian sphere and the world of the military. The interdisciplinary experience of reservists significantly extends the support options available to the armed forces.
The United Kingdom (UK Military Stabilisation Support Group) has successfully completed its three-year assignment as framework nation for CIMEX from 2011 to 2014.
CIMEX 2015 will be held in Washington, DC. The CIMIC Committee, chaired by Lt. Col. Peter Carroll (UK), will define strategic issues that the organisational team headed by Col. Vanessa Dornhoefer (US Air Force) will then convert into corresponding exercise scenarios. The objective will be to bolster the international nature of CIMEX events and to intensify collaboration with other CIOR bodies (such as its Legal Committee) and the medical sister organisation CIOMR.
Complex challenges require complex solutions: this was demonstrated in impressive form during CIMEX 2014. CIMEX 2015 in July 2015 will represent the continuation of this successful series of exercises.